I've owned this tank for over 25 years... it's been taken down and set up again at least 6 times through several moves. The last iteration I had made a DIY 3D background using Great Stuff sprayed onto some 1/2" rigid pink insulation foam
. At first I just had it behind the tank, but then about 2-3 years ago I put it in the tank.
That looked legit and worked pretty good, but I neglected to silicone it to the glass... I just wedged it in tight and piled my substrate up against it to keep it in place in case I wanted to remove it again. That worked okay until it started to work loose and I got some fish trapped behind the background... so I completely tore down the tank to do it right. I also took the opportunity to razor away all of the old silicone seams and reseal the tank.
So this time around I am using the Great Stuff Pond and Stone instead of the regular expanding foam -- spraying it directly to the glass. I had some nice driftwood pieces that I boiled and tacked/foamed into place. And I made a large faux rock by carving a block of foam and covering it with Drylok -- which is siliconed to the back glass.
I'll have to post better pictures of it, but I used some clear acrylic sheet to triangulate the rear corners of the tank to hide the heater, intake/return tubes, and air lines. There are a couple of "caves" (about 3-4" diameter) through the bottoms of each of these compartments so water can flow through and fish can freely go in and out. The corner compartments are completely covered with the driftwood and sprayfoam, and the caves are pretty well obscured from view with pieces of driftwood so you can't see light coming from behind.
One of the techniques I used was to create "roots" by drawing long squiggly lines of foam... after several layers it looks like a tangle up mess of roots. I also poked a lot of holes in the foam while it was still half-cured... skinned on the outside but still gooey on the inside... I poked thumb-sized holes with a stick and "scrambled" the foam on the inside to create to little pockets that I can grow plants in. Just a note... the sprayfoam doesn't initially stick to the glass in a vertical position... so you have to lay the aquarium on it's back (or whatever side you are working on) until the foam starts to expand and get sticky.
Substrate is: about 1/2" of natural kitty litter (Fullers Earth / clay), then about 1.5" of regular dirt (dug from my yard), then about 1" of black Seachem Flourite.
I'm using my trusty Eheim 2213 canister filter under the cabinet and I have a 200w heater in the return flow compartment of the tank.
Flora: Amazon sword, Red Rubin Sword, Microanthemum "Monte Carlo", Crypt Wendtii, Jungle Val, Water Lettuce, Water Sprite or Wisteria (I can't tell the difference), Java Moss, Java Ferns, a few stems of Ludwigia Repens, and some Dwarf Rotala on a ledge up above the driftwood... they like lots of light. I'd love to get some
Alternanthera Rosaefolia if anyone has some for sale/trade.
Fauna: 5 Marble Angelfish. 1 pair of Kribensis. 3 black Mollies. 3 American Flag Fish. A few stragglers of Zebra Danios and Neon Tetras. 20 Red Cherry Shrimp. 1 Siamese Algae Eater. 1 Bristlenose Pleco. .. and I plan to add some Discus and Cory Cats once the tank grows in a bit more.
I'll take more pics once the water clears up... just a bit of cloudiness still.